Firewood is a 12-day-old eatery specialising in grills. The sleek restaurant occupies a historic building within George Town’s UNESCO-listed world heritage zone. The 116-year-old building used to house the offices of the Penang Opium and Spirits Farm, which were responsible for issuing licenses for opium dens, as well as facilities for the processing of raw opium in the early part of the 20th-century. The opium farms themselves were located in India.
Fronted by two young chefs, JJ Lew and Yang Hao, formerly of Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen in Marina Bay Sands Singapore, the kitchens churned out a line of surprisingly tasty offerings which were much better than those we’d had in other similar spots in George Town.
Charcoal-grilled Caesar salad - this dish turned out to be my fave for the evening. It’s quite difficult to find authentic Caesar salad in Malaysia, so Firewood’s pretty competent attempt was very much welcomed.
Charred white sweet corn, with Bearnaise sauce and parmesan - lovely flavours, but quite difficult to eat, as the corn were thickly-slathered with the sauces.
Charcoal-grilled miso aubergine, with spring onions, coriander and lime - pretty sure I first tasted this at Nobu quite a while back. Very good.
Grilled Japanese Harima oysters, with Swiss cheese and ikura (salmon roe) - very fresh oysters, but the least-impressive amongst the dishes we had this evening.
Grilled barramundi, with charred lemon and a “special sauce”.
Jamaican jerk chicken, with mango salsa and Peri-peri sauce. Firewood’s rendition resulted in a rather Chinese-tasting “char-siew”-style chicken - which was probably directed at its mainly-ethnic Chinese client base here in Penang.
The Peri-peri sauce was hot enough to scald one’s tongue. My lips still felt burnt long after the meal!
Angus sirloin steak - we ordered medium-rare, but the steak was overcooked.
Mushroom tagliatelle with Manchego cheese, truffle oil and parsley - tasty, truffle-scented creamy pasta dish, done to sheer perfection here.
Charcoal cream tiramisu - overly-sweet, and not creamy enough for me.
Deep-fried bao with semifreddo and condensed milk - absolutely scrumptious. I’ll come back here just for this.
Charcoal-burnt cheesecake with vanilla ice-cream - this was by far one of the best cheesecakes I’d had in a while.
Overall, quite a decent attempt at providing grill house fare. Cooking over open flames gave all their dishes really marvelous, smokey-aromatic flavours.
Service is still rather shaky at best, by a young and inexperienced team. Still, it’s only been 12 days.
Firewood, The Star Pitt Street
15, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (Pitt Street), 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6017-989 9246
Operating hours: 12 noon - 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10pm, Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.